Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha attractions

Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha offers visitors a living museum of native and exotic plant collections. Attractions include a sensory garden, arid region, Japanese garden, bonsai house, Hide 'n' Seek Children's Trail, lagoon and bamboo grove, tropical display dome and the largest collection of Australian native rainforest trees in the world.

Check out the visitor wayfinding guide for the locations of the attractions.

Lumina Night Walk

Lumina Night Walk - coming soon

Find out about the Lumina Night Walk coming to Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha.

 

Arid Region Plants

In the Arid Region, the dry regions of Central America and Africa are represented by plants that adapt to their harsh environments.

Stem-succulent Euphorbia and Jatropha contrast with juicy-leaved Aloe, Kalanchoe, Lampranthus and similar forms. Together they combine to simulate the rugged beauty of life in a desert landscape.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Arid Region in Council's Flickr account.

Australian Plant Communities

This 27 hectare area in Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha opened in 1984. It displays native Australian plants, mostly from eastern Australia.

Featuring an artificial lagoon which captures rainwater from the mountain, the area includes tropical and sub-tropical rainforests. There is also an open eucalypt forest, heathland and wetlands typical of naturally forested regions along the east coast of Australia.

The collection includes species that are rare or endangered in their natural habitats. In the Brisbane Botanic Gardens' conservation collection there are more than 40 rare or threatened species.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Australian Plant Communities in Council's Flickr account.

Bonsai House

Bonsai is the art of growing ornamental, artificially cultivated trees and shrubs in pots. This Japanese and Chinese art form has been popular for centuries, inspired by nature’s own bonsais, shaped and dwarfed by harsh winds and poor growing conditions in their natural habitat. Plants are cultivated using various techniques to produce miniature specimens which mimic the shape and form of full-sized trees found in the wild.

The focus of the collection is on species that can be cultivated in a subtropical climate, with a growing collection of trained native and exotic plants, including figs, conifers, camellias, azaleas and subtropical deciduous species. Some specimens are more than 80 years old.

The collection is maintained by botanic gardens staff and volunteers from the Bonsai Society of Queensland and Bimer Bonsai Club.

Opening hours

The Bonsai House is next to the Japanese Garden. It is open daily between 9am-4pm. All abilities access is available.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Bonsai House via Council's Flickr account.

History

The original Bonsai House was opened in 1999 with the majority of trees donated from the private collection of the late Len Webber, with some trees dating back to 1941. Len was one of Australia's foremost published authorities on bonsai.

The redesigned Bonsai House was completed and opened in 2022 as part of Brisbane City Council’s commitment to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha Master Plan.

The new facility features one of the largest publicly owned bonsai displays in Australia, with a workshop area for training and education, a contemplation platform for viewing the Japanese Garden, and a gallery-style layout showcasing around 80 plants on display.

The building features locally sourced stone as well as recycled and sustainably sourced native timber, including:

  • Recycled Ironbark timber, used for the display benches and seating, was sourced from the demolition of various old buildings across Brisbane, as well as the demolition of the Trinity Inlet Wharf in Cairns. These materials were supplied by The Big Red Shed.
  • Recycled Grey Gum for the display wall shelves was sourced from the Brisbane Demolition Shed in Sumner Park.
  • Reclaimed Darwin Stringybark timber for the screen walls that surround the building were supplied by Branch95, who had reclaimed the material from old northern Queensland mine sites.
  • Leftover drilling material from the Legacy Way Tunnel was also used as fill for the new Bonsai House.
  • Brisbane Blue Stone used within the project was quarried from the Mt Coot-tha Quarry.

Brisbane’s Sister City - Kobe

The redevelopment of the Bonsai House also commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Brisbane-Kobe Sister City Agreement on 16 July 1985.

In 2020, Kobe and Brisbane celebrated 35 years of strong ties through friendship, mutual understanding, and assistance - particularly in times of natural disaster experienced by both cities.

In recognition of the longstanding friendship shared between the two cities, the Kobe City Government and Kobe City Assembly Japan-Australia Association generously donated a Japanese Stone Lantern and two Japanese Bonsai Pots.

A plaque has been erected by Brisbane City Council to mark the occasion and can be viewed by the Shishi-odoshi water fountain.

Fern House

The Fern House has more than 80 different species and varieties of ferns on display. These include ferns that live on rocks, trees and in the water.

Ferns are plants without flowers that range from small and delicate plants to quite large tree ferns. Ferns play a role in the complex balance of nature, providing habitat and food for humans and animals. Indigenous people from many lands recognise the value of ferns for food, medicine, dyes and fibres. These primitive plants are in fossil records from more than 200 million years ago. Destruction of old growth forests has endangered some species.

The Fern House is open 9am-4pm daily.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Fern House in Council's Flickr account.

National Australia Remembers Freedom Wall

The National Australia Remembers Freedom Wall was built to celebrate 50 years of freedom in the Pacific.

It is a calm refuge and a space for quiet contemplation and reflection on the spirit of freedom. The wall is not a war memorial but a symbol of 50 years of freedom.

There are 16,000 tribute plaques on the walls to remember loved ones or simply an expression of thanks. The wall honours servicemen and women who gave their lives in all wars for this nation. It also honours those involved in bringing freedom to Australia. This includes those who worked on the land, in protected industries and organisations such as the Red Cross.

Gardens enclose the memorial, representing the land, sea and divide.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the National Freedom Wall in Council's Flickr account.

Hide 'n' Seek Children's Trail

Children and parents can explore the Hide 'n' Seek Children's Trail set in the heart of the shady exotic rainforest.

Collect a map at the start of the trail and follow it to make sure you spot all the surprises and amazing plant facts.

Download the:

You can also follow Hide 'n' Seek Children Trails in Boondall Wetlands and Downfall Creek Reserve. View or download the maps before you go.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Hide 'n' Seek Children's Trail in Council's Flickr account.

Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden was originally an exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at Expo '88 held at South Bank. The Japanese Garden was gifted to the people of Brisbane and opened in February 1989.

One of Japan's leading landscape architects, the late Kenzo Ogata designed the gardens. The theme of the garden is ‘tsuki-yama-chisen’ or 'mountain-pond-stream'. It features the key elements of stone, water, ornaments, arbours, paths and vegetation.

Japanese gardens are usually evergreen gardens. This garden contains a combination of native and exotic plants suitable for Brisbane's subtropical climate. Single trunked trees lean over water or pathways. Gardeners carefully prune shrubs to create a sense of open space and to frame views.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Japanese Garden in Council's Flickr account. 

Lagoon and Bamboo Grove

There are several varieties of bamboo planted at Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha. These varieties of bamboo include Bambusa vulgaris, Bambusa textilis and Dendrocalamus giganteus. Some of these were planted prior to the development of the gardens.

Bamboo has many uses. It is a food source in some cultures, used for making furniture, paper, clothing construction and musical instruments.

The nearby lagoon, often covered in purple and pink water lilies, is home to birds, lizards, turtles and eels. Amongst the varied wildlife, you can see:

  • Brisbane short-necked turtles
  • saw-shelled turtles
  • dusky moorhens
  • egrets
  • cormorants
  • pacific black ducks, and
  • many eastern water dragons.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Lagoon and Bamboo Grove in Council's Flickr account.

Rainforests

There are several types of rainforests at the gardens, including:

  • the Australian Plant Communities' collection featuring blue quandong (Elaeocarpus grandis) and brush cherry (Syzygium australe)
  • an exotic section with tropical trees, shrubs and vines from around the world
  • an Australian area featuring common and rare native species.

The Australian rainforest area encompasses the Aboriginal Plant Trail. You can see native plants used for thousands of years for medicine, shelter, materials and food.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Rainforests in Council's Flickr account.

Sensory Garden

The Sensory Garden contains culinary, fragrant and medicinal herbs from around the world, as well as flowers and aromatic foliage. You can smell the blooms in season and gently rub the leaves of assorted mints and lavender. For your safety, do not consume any plant material.

The first botanic gardens

Modern botanic gardens originated from physic (healing) gardens attached to medieval monasteries or hospitals. The monks grew herbs for their medicinal value to train apothecaries' (medical herbalists). They also grew them for the aesthetic enjoyment of visitors. It is thought that the first botanic gardens are these physics gardens from the 16th and 17th Centuries. Around 80% of the world's population uses herbal remedies prepared directly from plants.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Sensory Garden in Council's Flickr account.

Tropical Display Dome

Opened in 1977, the Tropical Display Dome at Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha is a large geodesic (lattice) structure, designed by Brisbane City Council architect Jacob de Vries. It was built to display plants from the tropical regions of the world. This also includes plants that require a protected environment to thrive in Brisbane.

The climate-controlled atmosphere of the dome provides the plant collection with the right atmospheric conditions. It also protects them from potential threats found in their natural environment.

A circular pathway winds upwards through the dome building. It wraps around a central pond featuring water lilies (Nymphaea) and native fish. This path leads visitors past a range of aroids, calatheas, heliconia's, caladiums, palms and epiphytes.

A variety of food crop plants from the tropics including Indian arrowroot, vanilla, cocoa, pepper and African nutmeg grow in the temperature controlled climate of the dome.

The Tropical Display Dome is open 9am-4pm daily.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Tropical Display Dome in Council's Flickr account.

The Platform

Located adjacent to the Mt Coot-tha Visitor Information Centre, The Platform features sculptural works which are displayed before being permanently located within the gardens.

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Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.